Movie Review: Hero

Hero is a very Chinese film. I’ll say that at the beginning because I don’t want there to be any misunderstandings. Visually it’s beautiful. Emotionally, it’s touching. And philosophically, it’s deep. This is a film about martial arts, not a martial arts film. I loved it.

This is a movie about love, honor, and sacrifice, not necessarily in that order. What would you give up for your counrty? What would you give up for your lover? What would you give up for your honor?

Nameless is a warrior who has defeated three assassins sent after the king. How and why has he done this? That’s the question to be answered. And the answer is not what you may believe.

I won’t solve the main question for you because I hate it when people give away the plot of the movie, so I’ll deal with the stylistic aspects instead. Flying Snow, Sky, and Broken Sword are the assassins, Nameless is the main character. There are so many impressive martial arts sequences that I can’t remember them all, but they range from the treetops and the water, to the roof and the ground.

The connection between calligraphy and swordwork is made. In fact, the connection of contemplation and mind and the marital arts is the basis for the entire movie. It’s been said that a true master of the art is never attacked because people forget what they are going to do. Therefore the true mastery of martial arts is the mastery of mind. Hero, in its ability to show the various viewpoints and beliefs without making you want to scream from repetion, has truly mastered the mind of its audience. I was as wrapped up in the final sequences as I was in the first. The movie moves like and opera and has several of the Chinese opera artifacts in it – the use of color and costume, even the chorus, but on a grander and more sweeping scale. And Hero is a grand movie, even as it is about only five people in tight focus.

This is the sort of epic that Alexander and Troy should have been. It exposes the larger reality by expanding upon the reality of a small number. The question of why we live and die is what gives the movie both its scope and its depth.

But don’t take my word for it:

You can get it here: Hero on DVD


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